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Friday 24 May 2019

'Trisha was so full of life' - Husband reveals his agony after wife dies during routine surgery

Happier times: Patricia Bishop and husband Tom
Happier times: Patricia Bishop and husband Tom
Patricia Bishop
Conor Feehan

Conor Feehan

The husband of a Dublin woman who died after routine surgery to remove a gallstone has said her condition deteriorated so quickly she would have never known she was about to die.

Patricia Bishop, a mother-of-three, was only 66 when she went into St James's Hospital on September 22, 2016, for a procedure which should have seen her up and about the next day.

Patricia Bishop
Patricia Bishop

But during the operation her bowel was punctured and Patricia got sepsis, leading to multi-organ failure and death.

A verdict of medical misadventure was returned at the inquest last week into Patricia's death. Dublin Coroner's Court heard that her doctor had "never before seen a case of sepsis like this".

Now, as the second anniversary of her death approaches, Tom Bishop - her husband of 46 years - has recalled with disbelief the horrifying sequence of events that saw Patricia go from a healthy woman, who was looking forward to going sea swimming, to being surrounded by her family as her life support machines were switched off.

"On Tuesday, September 20, Trisha went in for a scope, and a gallstone was found, and the surgeon said he could tackle it that Thursday, so that's when she went in to St James's," Tom said at his home in Drimnagh.

"I left her in at 9am and they rang me at 11am to say she was done but not to hurry in because she was recovering from the anaesthetic.

"I visited her at around 4.30pm. They were keeping her in overnight anyway, and on the Friday morning I got in and Trisha had difficulty breathing. She was panting for breath.

"The doctors said they thought it might be a reaction to the anaesthetic, and Trisha knew she wasn't getting out that day either," he added.

"I went in the next morning and Trisha was sitting out at the side of the bed, still panting for breath, and the nurse was taking her blood pressure. Then she went to get another machine to check her bloods.

"Then this woman came in and asked me to leave for a moment.

"I was in the corridor when she came out at around 10.30am and told me 'get your family in'.

"I rang Trisha's brother. Then they said they were taking her down to ICU, and as they were wheeling her in the doors she said her last words to me.

"It's the strangest thing when I think back on it now, but it shows how unaware she was about what was happening."

Tom said Patricia asked him: "Did you pay the credit card?"

He added: "Trisha was sedated because they had to put tubes and things into her, and she never woke again. That was my wife gone."

Patricia had gone into multi-organ failure and despite attempts to save her Tom was told there was no hope.

"It's a strange experience watching them turn off the machines," he said.

"The screens started to go blank one by one, and I didn't know when she was alive or when she was dead. It's terrible."

At last week's inquest, Finbar McCarthy, consultant gastroenterologist/physician at St James's Hospital, said he hoped never to see a case like it again.

He said Ms Bishop experienced some discomfort after the procedure but he felt at the time that this was normal following the surgery.

"When I examined her the following morning at 8am her heart rate and blood pressure were normal and she had no fever.

"These are the early warning signs for sepsis," Dr McCarthy said.

Three hours later her condition deteriorated so rapidly that she was transferred to intensive care.

Patricia developed sepsis due to a perforation of bowel tissues during the procedure and died eight days later on September 30.

"Trisha was so full of life. She loved swimming, and she was a great skier too. She could master anything," Tom said.

"We were married for 46 years and have three great children.

"She was super, really super. She'd want to have been super to marry me.

"I met Trisha first when she was 14, and we started going out to the pictures when she was 15."

All around their house on Slievebloom Road there are photographs of Patricia and Tom.

Asked about the verdict of Patricia's death by medical misadventure, Tom said he thought it reflected the truth of what happened.

"I think it's an accurate verdict. There was nothing really wrong with Trish when she went into hospital. It was supposed to be fairly routine surgery," he said.

Tom said he had no idea what sepsis was until it claimed Patricia's life.

"I think an awareness campaign would be a good thing, so that more is known about the early symptoms. It appears to be rampant," he added.

Last month the family of a Finglas teenager made a similar appeal after their son died suddenly from sepsis.

Sean Hughes (15) died in January after initially developing a chest infection.


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